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26 Dec 2013

My Most Anticipated Indie Games of 2014 (and What These Games Can Teach Indie Devs)

Christmas is over, and now it’s time to look forward to 2014. New Year’s Day is just around the corner (in six days, as a matter of fact), and as a result, you need to know what’s coming up in 2014. Besides, we’re all gamers too, right? You need to know what will be worth your time in 2014. As an indie developer, you also need to know what games are coming out in 2014 and why. There is a reason why people make games, and it isn’t simply because they are fun, but it is also because the developer (hopefully) knows the game is unique enough to grab an audience. Thus, here are the indie games you need to look out for in 2014 that are going to (hopefully) be a blast to play along with a few lessons you can learn as to why the game looks awesome.

 

Star Citizen

Before I begin: if Star Citizen does not release in 2014, don’t blame me. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2014 release, Star Citizen may be released by the end of the year, but it could just as easily launch in early 2015. With that out of the way, let me break it to you like this: if you ever wanted to play another space simulation game from the mind of the man who developed the Wing Commander series, Star Citizen is your game.

Chris Roberts’ Cloud Imperium Games is developing, publishing, and funding the entire game itself – the very essence of the indie gaming spirit! It’s an indie game that is going to have the biggest budget of all time with a successful crowdfunding campaign of $34 million, which makes sense because Star Citizen is going to have players exploring galaxies and worlds that anyone can visit and explore. The entire universe is going to be within reach at all times as players fly within their cockpits to new, unexplored galaxies.

This is crowdfunding bumped up to 11 and done right. If you’re an indie developer, it pays to know exactly how Roberts marketed Star Citizen, which resulted in a successful crowdfunding campaign. It’s an incredible achievement, and there are many lessons to be learned from Roberts and Co.

 

Quadrilateral Cowboy

If you’re like me, you have been awaiting a game that takes place in the 1980’s and involves computer hacking. Sounds awesome, right? Consider this: Quadrilateral Cowboy is made by the same studio that brought us Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving, and the most interesting thing about it? Quadrilateral Cowboy also takes place in the same universe as these games.

Played from a first-person perspective, players must conduct heists and hack their way to successfully complete these missions armed with a laptop and a modem alone. Players also have to type in ‘code’ (and I use code very, very loosely) to accomplish their missions, making this a game a little bit about heists, a little about hacking, and a little bit about puzzle solving.

Quadrilateral Cowboy looks as if it may combine a wide array of awesome elements into one, solid game. It is a hard task to tackle and an even bigger one to accomplish successfully. With that being said, if Quadrilateral Cowboy, they look as if they are going to be accomplishing exactly this, so if you have been curious to know how to properly implement numerous elements into one solid game, Quadrilateral Cowboy looks to be a solid example to learn from.

 

Lacuna Passage

I’m not saying I’m looking forward to Lacuna Passage just because I interviewed Tyler Owen on a recent episode of Game Academy Radio. With that being said, Lacuna Passage is shaping up to take the first-person exploration genre that Gone Home and Dear Esther brought back into the limelight over the last few years and turn it on its head. Using real-world Mars data, Owen is designing Lacuna Passage to be the truest Mars simulator ever designed, all the while crafting a compelling story around the game in which players must survive as the only astronaut on the planet (or so player’s initially believe). If you want to know how to craft stories in the most minimal way possible, use Lacuna Passage as an example. It’s shaping up to be not only one of the most unique indie games of 2014, but perhaps a game with one of the best stories of the year.

 

Transistor

It is going to be interesting to see how well received Transistor is among critics and players alike in comparison to Supergiant Games’ previous game, Bastion. If you remember back a few years ago, Bastion was one of the biggest breakout games of that year, and Supergiant Games is hoping to continue its success with its next big game, Transistor.

This futuristic game looks amazing and keeps Supergiant Games’ signature art style fully intact. Combining action and strategy in the same way that Bastion did, Transistor is aiming to blow people away once again. Will it be an improvement over Bastion or will it be more of the same (or worst of all: worse than Bastion)? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: anything Supergiant Games is worthy of your consideration, and if anything, the release of Transistor will teach indie developers how to properly or how to avoid developing and marketing a sophomore game.

 

So there you have it: the indie games of 2014 I’m looking forward to the most. This isn’t an exclusive list by any means, so let me turn it over to you guys. Which indie games are you looking forward to in 2014, and what lessons are you hoping to learn from them?

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